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As a diver and underwater photographer, I find that Marine Identification books are an invaluable resource which I bring along on every dive trip I take. Not only do the books help to identify what I see (and photograph), but most offer information on size, feeding habits, and tons more that helps me to learn more about the species I encounter. As you can imagine, I've spent a small fortune on these books, but in my opinion, this is money very well spent. Following is a list of the Marine Identification books that I own. I've included a brief opinion of the book and a link to Amazon's web page for order info.


1001 Nudibranchs

by Neville Coleman

A very comprehensive Nudibranch I.D. book. Coleman provides high quality, albeit small, photos, a number of variations for most species and a comprehensive index. Except for the fact that a number of the identifications are incorrect, this is a very good book.


Coastal Fish Identification: California to Alaska
by Paul Humann

Without a doubt, the best Fish I.D. book for identifying fish from Alaska to Southern California. Not only does Humann offer pictures of many fish in different stages of their lives, but he also offers drawings that point out features that help differentiate one species from another. A must-have for anyone who dives the west coast of the U.S. This one sets the standard.


Coastal Fishes of the Pacific Northwest
by Andy Lamb and Phil Edgell

Not a bad book for divers of the Pacific Northwest. While this book gives an impressive amount of information about a given species, I prefer Coastal Fish Identification: California to Alaska when attempting to identify a particular fish I've encountered.


Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific
by Terrence M. Gosliner, David W. Behrens and Gary C. Williams

As far as Invertebrate I.D. books go, this is far and away the best one I've ever seen for creatures in the Indo-Pacific region. Covering over 1,100 species, this book is unrivaled among invertebrate books in the wealth of species information or the quality of photos. My only wishes for future editions would be to include size information about each species and to expand the nudibranch section. With that said, this is an absolute must-have.


Dolphins and Porpoises: A Worldwide Guide
by Jean-Pierre Sylvestre

Quite a good resource for learning about dolphins and porpoises. Included is lots of taxonomy, population, and descriptive information about each species. Additionally, there is a lot of anecdotal info that is rather interesting.


Fishes of the Pacific Coast: Alaska to Peru, Including the Gulf of California and the Galapagos Islands
by Gar Goodson

The main weakness of this book is that instead of photographs, it uses color drawings as a means of identifying species. With that said, it actually is a pretty good resource. However, Paul Humann's Coastal Fish Identification: California to Alaska is definitely a better choice for anyone serious about identifying marine fish.


Guide to Marine Invertebrates: Alaska to Baja California
by Daniel W. Gotshall

The best book I've found for identifying marine invertebrates of North America's Pacific Coast. Although nudibranchs have been excluded from this edition, this book covers virtually every marine invertebrate one is likely to encounter. For nudibranchs, check out Pacific Coast Nudibranchs - A Guide to the Opisthobranchs, Alaska to Baja California.


Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide
by Gerald R. Allen and Roger Steene

If you wanted to take only one book with you on a dive trip to the Indo-Pacific region, this would be a good candidate. However, I find that although it covers a ton of different marine animals (the book includes over 1,800 color photos), it pales in comparison to the books that stick to one type (i.e. nudibranchs, tropical fish, etc.). Additionally, it doesn't give a ton of detail about particular species.


Indo-Pacific Nudibranchs and Sea Slugs
by Terrence M. Gosliner, David W. Behrens and Ángel Valdés

Sets the standard in field guides for identifying nudibranchs in the Indo-Pacific. Containing over 2,000 photos, it covers almost 1,400 species and includes information on characteristics, natural history, size, and geographic distribution. A must-have. This book has now been updated and replaced by Nudibranch & Sea Slug Identification - Indo-Pacific.


Indo-Pacific Nudibranchs and Sea Slugs
by Terrence M. Gosliner, David W. Behrens and Ángel Valdés

Sets the standard in field guides for identifying nudibranchs in the Indo-Pacific. Containing over 2,000 photos, it covers almost 1,400 species and includes information on characteristics, natural history, size, and geographic distribution. A must-have. This


Killer Whales : The Natural History and Genealogy of Orcinus Orca in British Columbia and Washington State
by John K. Ford, Graeme M. Ellis, and Kenneth C. Balcomb

An excellent resource for anyone interested in Orca Whales. Although it specifically covers the resident whales of Washington and British Columbia, it proves very interesting to anyone at all interested in this species. Not only does it contain some amazing photography, it is also an invaluable resource for identifying specific pods and individual whales one is likely to encounter in the Pacific Northwest.


Marine Animals of Baja California: A Guide to the Common Fishes and Invertebrates
by Daniel Gotshall

This book has been updated and replaced by Sea of Cortez Marine Animals. It is about the best all-in-one book I found before travelling to the Sea of Cortez. Containing information on both marine vertebrates and invertebrates, it is very similar in style to Gotshall's other books.


Micronesian Reef Fishes
by Robert F. Myers

Although the pictures are not as impressive as some of the other books that cover the region, no other book I've seen can match the sheer amount of information Myers gives. Once you find a picture of the species you're looking for, the taxonomic detail in this book is unparalleled. The real strength of this book is learning more about a given species after you've made an identification.


Nudibranch & Sea Slug Identification - Indo-Pacific
by Terrence M. Gosliner, Ángel Valdés and David W. Behrens

The new gold standard in field guides for identifying nudibranchs in the Indo-Pacific. Containing over 2,200 photos, it covers almost 2,000 species and includes information on characteristics, natural history, size, and geographic distribution. A must-have.


Nudibranchs and Sea Snails - Indo-Pacific Field Guide
by Helmut Debelius

Pictorially, one of the more complete nudibranch books with over 1000 high-quality photos. Unfortunately, a large number of the photos are mis-identified. For a list of corrections, visit the November 1998 issue of the Australasian Nudibranch News.


Nudibranch Behavior
by David W. Behrens

Unlike more common field guides, this excellent book discusses the various behaviors of these fascinating creatures, including such topics as feeding, defenses, reproduction, etc. A must-have if you're interested in learning about why nudibranchs behave as they do.


Pacific Coast Inshore Fishes
by Daniel W. Gotshall

At one time, this was one of the better books available on fish from Alaska to Baja. However, now I would definitely recommend Coastal Fish Identification: California to Alaska which covers many more species and contains much better photography.


Pacific Coast Nudibranchs - A Guide to the Opisthobranchs, Alaska to Baja California
by David W. Behrens

Undoubtedly, the best book for identifying nudibranchs of North America's Pacific Coast. This one offers it all - excellent photos, great taxonomic information, and lots of general information about nudibranchs for those not at all familiar with them. This is the only book you'll need for this particular creature when diving the region that the book covers.


Reef Creature Identification - Tropical Pacific
by Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach

The gold standard for identifying Indo-Pacific invertebrates. Containing over 2,000 photos, it covers 1,600 species and includes information on characteristics, size, and geographic distribution. A must-have.


Reef Creature Identification - Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas
by Paul Humann

Like Humann's other books, this one sets the standard for Invertebrate I.D. books of the particular region. Buy this book, and you're covered for invertebrates of Florida, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas.


Reef Fish Identification - Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas
by Paul Humann

This book is indispensible for anyone who dives this region. As with Coastal Fish Identification: California to Alaska, Humann includes not only more species than any other book that covers the region, but more information about each particular species. This is the only book you'll nee to identify marine fish when diving Florida, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas.


Reef Fish Identification - Tropical Pacific
by Gerald Allen

This book is my current top pick for taking along on trips to the Indo-Pacific. Very similar to other books in the series, it's the most accurate and complete book I'm aware of for identifying the fish species of this particular region.


Reef Fishes: A Guide to Their Identification, Behavior, and Captive Care (Volume 1)
by Scott W. Michael

This book sets a new standard for its combination of taxonomic information, photo quality, and thouroughness (i.e. it includes literally dozens of shots of various color variations of Giant Frogfish (Antennarius commerson)). My two gripes are that 1. Volume 1 only covers a limited number of species and 2. The book is in the form of a hardcover textbook, making it very impractical to take along on trips. However, once I've returned home, this is my first pick to help I.D. fish photos.


Reef Sharks and Rays of the World: A Guide to Their Identification, Behavior & Ecology
by Scott W. Michael

The best book I've encountered dealing specifically with sharks and rays. Although the photography is not on par with some of the other books, few others can come close to comparing as far as the sheer amount of information given about each species. This book covers well over 150 species of sharks and rays.


Sharks of Tropical and Temperate Seas
by R.H. Johnson

This book is better for learning general information about sharks than as an I.D. book. Additionally, the quality of the photography is not overly spectacular. Personally, I would recommend Reef Sharks and Rays of the World: A Guide to Their Identification, Behavior & Ecology.


Southeast Asia Tropical Fish Guide
by Rudie H. Kuiter & Helmut Debelius

An excellent Fish I.D. book covering virtually all the marine fish a diver is likely to see throughout virtually the entire Southeast Asia region. This book has now been updated and replaced by Asia Pacific Reef Guide.